Vancouver Canucks, Conor Garland

Canucks Garland Inconsistency Symbolic Of Team

Vancouver Canucks forward Conor Garland has a point in four of his last six games, a stretch that followed a pointless streak of five games, that was part of a drought that saw him tally just two points over a twelve game period.

Garland, making $4.95-million per season for another three after this one, was a healthy scratch for the Canucks game against the Columbus Blue Jackets back on October 18th.

Since that time he’s seen consistent opportunities in the top-six forward group including time on Vancouver’s top line. He’s also seen success on a third line with Sheldon Dries and Nils Höglander, the Swedish winger who was sent down to the AHL Abbotsford Canucks on Monday night.

Round and round it goes, where it stops, nobody knows. His movement around the line-up is symbolic of the team’s inconsistencies in general. Head coach Bruce Boudreau is a professional line juggler. The same concept applies to a struggling D-corps.

“When you’re near the bottom of the league in goals against you move them all around to find the good pairings,” Boudreau said Monday morning. “It might be on a nightly basis you find these things, the consistency has been our big problem all year long.”

From the goal line out.

Meanwhile, Garland’s name has popped up in trade rumours and it was even suggested by one agent that the 26-year-old, right-shot winger would soon be placed on waivers.

Peter Cooney would disagree. Garland’s representative told Vancouver Hockey Insider last week that his client plays a complete 200-foot game and gives the Canucks management some valuable cost certainty.

Maybe, while some have suggested his price tag provides cost certainty that’s too expensive.

There’s no doubt Garland loves to play. He’s a rink rat and it’s hard to find a guy who eats, drinks, and sleeps hockey as much as Garland does.

“Conor is a historian of the game and he understands the nuances of NHL history,” Cooney stated.

Focus isn’t an issue, to the point where ‘Garly’ avoids social media.

Blurry Canucks Futures

Not exactly rags to riches, Garland’s gradual climb up hockey’s ranks has been impressive. A prolific scorer in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in Moncton, his lack of size presented a huge question mark, even with the NHL getting smaller and quicker. He was a 5th-round draft pick of the Arizona Coyotes in 2015.

It’s possible his 5-foot-10 listing is a bit generous, while he plays with an even shorter stick.

Garland should be a consistent season-to-season 20-goal scorer. He finished with 22 and 19 in the last two full NHL campaigns.

Right now at the thirty game mark, he only has five goals to go with nine assists.

On top of that, his once highly impressive penalties-drawn-compared-to-penalties-taken numbers have evened out from last year to this, as has his once lopsided takeaway to giveaway ratio. His possession numbers have also dropped.

All viable concerns.

Is he overpriced or is it more a “team thing”? Ultimately it’s Canucks management’s decision to make.

There’s only so many lines to juggle.

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.